EMPATIA Takes a Critical Approach to Open Governance
CLARITY - Open eGovernment Services
02Mar
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EMPATIA Takes a Critical Approach to Open Governance

by maxkortlander   |   02 Mar, 2018

The EMPATIA project takes a critical approach to open governance. In creating their platform, they have placed a particular focus on engaging citizens who are likely to be left behind in both traditional and modern processes of citizen involvement.

The EMPATIA platform itself can be thought of as the Wordpress of citizen engagement. Public administrations can use and personalize this platform to offer tailored tools for citizen engagement in their own city or region. Currently, four pilot cities are using the platform to engage citizens in Italy, Germany, Portugal, and Czechia.

EMPATIA’s team started from a place of techno-skepticism: They want to develop methods and tools that avoid the major errors and issues that they have seen commonly repeated in platforms for citizen participation. The aim of their platform is not simply to provide another means for citizen involvement. Their team has found that, if not carefully planned and constructed, digital avenues for citizen participation and engagement can reproduce the same exclusion of groups and inequality as more traditional, non-digital formats.

To address this issue, EMPATIA has placed a particular focus on fostering multichannel modes of participation. This involves identifying which groups are likely to be excluded by a citizen engagement platform, and then creating strategies tailored specifically towards engaging those groups. The end result of this is a multichannel participation strategy, in which different channels of participation are prepared and executed so as not to be repetitive, conflict between each other, overlap, or lose clarity.

EMPATIA’s ultimate aim is to have an impact on three levels. First, they want to influence the field of egovernance by developing inclusive processes and lowering obstacles to inclusion. Secondly, they aim to impact the community of policymakers and practitioners that are involved in the delivery of democratic innovation. And finally, EMPATIA hopes to have a direct effect on the community of open and free developers, to set a standard that could lead to integration, rather than redundancy, of newly produced tools for citizen participation.

 
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